Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tories Tipped That Ruffley Row Was About to Go Very Public
Conservative Staff Threatened With Sack if They Joined Protest

It has been briefed that it was a ‘pincer movement’ from the Chief Whip and the Party Chairman that sealed the deal for Ruffley yesterday. They were kicked into action, finally, by the leak of this letter from the Dean of Bury St Edmunds, and tens of thousands of people signing an online petition. Crucially the Tories were also made aware yesterday morning of a letter planned for Wednesday’s Times from dozens of women affiliated with the Conservative Party. “Women problem” is an understatement.

Guido has obtained a copy:

We are writing to share our concerns about the behaviour of David Ruffley MP.

We consider it unacceptable that a man who has accepted a caution for assaulting his partner should continue in his position.

This Conservative-led government has a proud record of acting to prevent domestic violence.  On 2 July 2014 the Prime Minister asserted the importance of  Clare’s Law in relation to abusive partners, and on 8 March 2014 the Home Secretary said: “I am determined to see a society where violence against women and girls is not tolerated, where people speak out.” It is disappointing, therefore, that despite the Government’s strong moral stance on this issue, our own party has been slow to take any action against one of their own Members, who has accepted a police caution for assault of his partner, one of the crimes we are trying to prevent.

When Andrew Pelling MP was arrested under suspicion of assaulting his wife in 2007, the whip was immediately withdrawn, pending an investigation by the party’s ethics committee. We are pleased that the new Chief Whip, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP decided last week to launch an investigation into this matter, however, given the serious nature of the offence for which Mr Ruffley has accepted a caution, which is an admission of guilt, we feel that the Conservative whip should be immediately withdrawn.

The public has the right to be served by representatives who abide by the legislation that they pass through Parliament.

We are proud to be members of the party who first gave women the vote, produced the first female Member of Parliament to take her seat in the House of Commons, as well electing the first female party Leader who went on to be the first female Prime Minister. For generations, the Conservative Party has lead the way in advancing equality of opportunity and equality under the rule of law.  Two people die every week at the hands of an abusive partner, and our party must demonstrate that no matter who you are, domestic violence is unacceptable

It was about to blow up, and blow up very publicly.

To those MPs who emotionally blackmailed and even threatened their female staff with disciplinary measures to stop them signing the above letter – and then grassed the plot to CCHQ – Guido says this. I know who you are, and you know what you have done. What I have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you…

Ruffley Resignation Raises Recall Row

The Recall measures announced in the Queen’s Speech would mean MPs on the Standards Committee, not local voters, will decide whether disgraced politicians should be booted out. David Ruffley’s announcement last night that he would be standing down at the election shows why it is crucial that parliament passes a proper Recall bill, not Nick Clegg’s fudge. 

Who pushed the Ruffley story and forced him to fall on his sword? Not his fellow MPs on either side of the House, who were either silent or actively trying to keep him out of trouble. The people saw things differently though…

Ruffley went mainstream because of the admirable work of women both inside and outside of the Tory party; from the Dean of St Edmundsbury’s devastating letter calling for him to quit; to the voices of women’s groups both locally and nationally, to the petition that amassed more than 40,000 signatures organised by an outraged woman. Guido understands 15 Tory women were going to publicly and openly protest Ruffley’s candidature tomorrow, some of them high profile. They were under immense pressure not to go ahead from within the party.

Ruffley will remain as the MP for Bury St Edmunds for ten months, earning more than £50,000 from his salary and pension contributions courtesy of the taxpayer when he should arguably be leaving parliament immediately. He cut a deal with the Tories and remains on board the gravy train. A Recall Bill that lets MPs decide whether their fellow MPs will face a vote is not going to work. David Ruffley shows more than ever why we need a proper Recall Bill to democratically boot out morally bankrupt politicians once and for all…

You can see all Guido’s stories about how the Ruffley story unfolded in full here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

UPDATE: 38,000 Sign Petition Calling for Ruffley to Resign

Senior members of David Ruffley’s Suffolk Tory association say they see nothing wrong with having a man who assaulted his girlfriend remain as their MP.

Do you disagree?

Then sign this petition calling for Ruffley to resign.

At the time of going to pixel over 33,000 others already have.

Add your voice here

UPDATE 5:00pm: 38,000 have now signed.

Top Tory: Nothing Wrong With an MP Who Assaults His Girlfriend

Seven million listeners will have heard Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 phone-in on David Ruffley this lunchtime, many in Bury St Edmunds. The discussion was most notable for the bizarre comments made by Bernard Sergeant, an important local Conservative figure. Asked if Ruffley should resign, Sergeant laughed and replied: “We do have these odd female organisations that look for equality and I think they’ve got it these days.” Pressed further by Vine on whether “you can have as a candidate a man who beats up his girlfriend”, Sergeant replies: “Well why not?”

Guido wondered if that is the official line, before he remembered there isn’t one…

It’s Official: Guido is a Feminist

Guido was tickled this morning by the words of Andrew Speed, the chairman of Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association, who has dismissed critics of David Ruffley as “minority feminist groups”. Guido has always believed that this is a minority feminist blog…

That said, you have to wonder what Refuge, the country’s leading domestic violence charity, think about being labelled “minority feminists”. Not to mention the growing number of Westminster staffers up in arms. Let alone the members of Ruffley’s own local party who are increasingly losing patience with their MP…

Friday, July 25, 2014

Refuge: Ruffley Must Resign

Leading domestic violence charity Refuge has called for David Ruffley to resign over his assault on his ex-girlfriend. Refuge’s chief executive Sandra Horley says she is “concerned that David Ruffley has so far been allowed to retain his position”, and demands the government “demonstrate to the public that men who abuse women will face consequences”.

“Earlier this year David Ruffley MP accepted a police caution for assaulting his former partner.  He has now expressed his ‘deep regrets’ about the incident and has explained that he has apologised to her.

Let me be clear – assaulting your partner is domestic violence, and it is a crime.  David Ruffley’s violent behaviour is all the more disappointing given that he has previously spoken out publicly against domestic violence.  Writing on his own website, he has asserted that, “One incident of domestic violence is one too many”.  Marking the White Ribbon Day campaign in 2005, he also wrote: “By wearing a white ribbon we are able to pledge never to commit, tolerate or ignore violence against women.”

Violent men must take responsibility for their actions. Apologies are all well and good, but at Refuge we know that perpetrators frequently use violence after apologising to their partners and making promises to change their behaviour.

I am concerned that David Ruffley has so far been allowed to retain his position.  This Government has stated that addressing violence against women and girls is one of its top priorities.  I sincerely hope it shows leadership on this issue by demonstrating to the public that men who abuse women will face consequences for their actions.”

Another loud, public call for Ruffley to go. The growing list of names demanding he step down will not have gone unnoticed by his association…

Bury St Edmunds Tory Association Drops Support for Ruffley

Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association is now refusing to publicly back David Ruffley as he faces investigation by Michael Gove. On Wednesday the chair of Ruffley’s local party said of his apology: “I support David’s statement”. But Guido understands that the mood among its executive hardened yesterday in the wake of growing publicity, with several members now believing his position is untenable. Tory sources describe the day’s developments as “significant”. This is reflected in the statement given by the local party to BBC Look East last night, dropping their “support”:

“We note David’s acceptance of his responsibilities, the issuance and acceptance of an apology and his expressions of deep regret.” 

Ruffley has now led the bulletin on BBC Look East for three days running, with yet more constituents telling last night’s edition he must resign. The story is on national television and radio, and appears in every national newspaper this morning. Today’s Telegraph reports he could be suspended from the House of Commons. More concerning for Ruffley’s local party is the fact the publicity around the story is growing by the day…

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ruffley Speaks: “I Would Never Condone Domestic Violence”

David Ruffley has bowed to mounting pressure and released a statement on his caution for assaulting a woman, as the story goes mainstream on the Today programme and BBC Breakfast this morning. He says “I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances,” presumably with the exception of when he is the perpetrator. Here is his statement in full:

“In March this year, an incident occurred between me and my former partner, resulting in inappropriate action on my part, which I deeply regret, in respect of which I accepted a police caution for common assault.

Some time later, I telephoned my former partner to apologise.

I am pleased to be able to say that she has accepted my apology. I have refrained from making any public statement on this matter as it is a deeply personal matter.

It is my understanding that my former partner wishes the incident to remain private.

I wish to stress that I would never condone domestic violence under any circumstances.”

Wonder what the woman he assaulted thinks about that.

Meanwhile, the Beeb’s Chris Mason reports that Tories at local and central level are now privately discussing his future, ahead of next week’s crisis summit. In Suffolk, Ruffley is topping the news agenda and is the only subject on this morning’s local radio phone-ins. The calls for him to go are getting louder…

See also: Gove Dragged Into Ruffley Assault Rap – Dean Tells Chief Whip Violent MP Must Resign

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gove Dragged Into Ruffley Assault Rap
Dean Tells Chief Whip Violent MP Must Resign

Michael Gove faces his first major test as Chief Whip after the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral appealed to him over the David Ruffley debacle. The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward has written to Ruffley, telling him “your position is untenable”, copying the letter to a number of senior local Tory figures, the Chief Whip and Lord Tebbit. Dr Ward recounts a damning conversation she had with Ruffley over the phone last week, revealing Ruffley tried to blame the victim for his violent assault:

“You tried to convince me that in the ‘incident’ back in March there was blame on both sides. When I visited ■■■■■■■■■■■■■■ in March a day or so after the event and went to hug her as my usual greeting, she winced in obvious pain. She told me as a friend and her priest of the events of the evening that had led to your arrest, and how frightened she had been of your rage and violent behaviour.”

Click below to read the letter in full:

The Dean is one of the most influential figures in Bury St Edmunds, so her intervention will concern the local and central party. Greg Hands wouldn’t put up with this…

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ruffley Faces Tory Crisis Meeting as Voters Call for His Head

Bury St. Edmunds Conservative Association has brought forward a meeting of its executive from 9 September to 31 July – Thursday week. They will grill David Ruffley over his caution for assaulting a woman, unsurprisingly once again both Ruffley and the association declined to comment when approached by the BBC last night. Jenny Antill of the Suffolk Domestic Abuse Partnership, who is also a Tory county council cabinet member, has added her name to the growing list calling on him to resign:

“He is a part of a government who has stood out firmly against domestic abuse in all its forms and I think under those circumstances he really must consider his position.”

Ruffley now has nine days to come up with an explanation as to how he can be a candidate for parliament after accepting a caution for violently assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Staying silent didn’t work…

dean-ruffley

Elsewhere BBC’s Look East is now following the issue closely and the local Green Party is meeting tomorrow to consider how to make Ruffley’s behaviour an issue during the election campaign. Now the issue has spread out into wider civil society locally with the Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral having now written to Ruffley calling on him to consider his position as calls mount for his resignation. The issue won’t go away…


Seen Elsewhere

What We Learned From the Referendum | FT
Scottish Crisis Moves South | Nick Wood
English Democrats Accidentally Celebrate Yes Victory | Pink News
Union In Its Current Form is Dead | Janan Ganesh
Labour Could Be Split in Two | Sun
Ashcroft Poll: Why Scotland Voted No | Buzzfeed
Boris: Change Barnett Formula | Sun
Cameron is Back | Dan Hodges
What Happens Now | James Kirkup
Cairo of the North | Quentin Letts
Labour are the Biggest Losers | Phil Collins


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